Coronavirus Quarantine Series: Day 1

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day 1 of my coronavirus quarantine series. For those of you who don’t know, as of March 17, 2020, seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area  have been ordered to “shelter-in-place”, a measure just short of a full-blown lockdown, that prevents citizens from leaving their homes other than to perform necessities like buying groceries or obtaining healthcare operations.

For the next three weeks, the streets will be empty, most businesses will close, and people will be self-quarantined in their homes. In my short 22 years of life, I have never experienced anything like this. It is surreal.

Public opinion is mixed. Some people believe that such drastic measures are absolutely necessary to prevent further spread of Covid-19. Others believe that the people are overreacting. I confess that even a week ago, I adopted a cavalier attitude towards the pandemic. I thought, “No way is this virus going to affect me or my loved ones.” Just a few days ago, I was having a wine and cheese night at my friend’s apartment in Los Angeles. I now realize that such behavior– turning a blind eye from reality– is the reason why this virus is spreading like wildfire. I take full ownership of my actions, and from here on out, I am committed to doing everything in my power to stop the pandemic and “flatten the curve”, as they say.

It’s comforting to think that you and your loved ones will remain immune to the illness. This kind of thinking serves as a defense mechanism of sorts that blinds us to the dark reality of what is really happening. Hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world carry the virus, and that number is only growing exponentially. Already, thousands of people have died at the hands of the virus, which has posed as life-threatening to the elderly and immunocompromised populations.

I think of my grandmother, who is currently holed up in her San Mateo apartment. Thankfully, she has enough food and supplies to last her for the next month. I still fear for her safety, though. She is 84 years old, and if affected, there is a very real possibility that she will not recover.

Almost 7 million California residents are restricted from leaving their homes for the next few weeks. As necessary as these measures are, I still find myself selfishly dreading the next 21 days of self-quarantine. What am I to do, if not go to the gym, dance at the studio, or attend work?

Well, last night, I made a promise to myself. I will not waste these next few weeks. I can look at it as a burden, or I can view it as an opportunity to focus on personal goals. Last night, I wrote a list of all the goals I hope to accomplish during my stay at home. These include: writing my blog, writing my book, writing on my website, running on the levee to get in shape, stretching at home to gain back my flexibility, dancing in the small open space in my living room, tutoring my students remotely, reading at least two books, and catching up on some Netflix shows. I carved out a schedule every day to ensure that I am keeping busy and staying on track to achieving these goals.

Here is the schedule I laid out for today:

8am-9am: Jog on the levee

9:15am-9:30am: Eat breakfast

9:30am-10am: Write book

10am-12pm: Study for GRE

12pm-12:30pm: Eat lunch

12:30pm-1pm: Write on website

1pm-3pm: Work from home

3pm-4pm: Dance and Stretch

4pm-5pm: Tutoring Session

5pm-6pm: Downtime

6pm-7pm: Write on blog/book

7pm-7:30pm: Eat dinner

7:30pm-8pm: Spring Cleaning

8pm-9pm: Study for GRE

9pm-10pm: Journaling / Self-Reflection

10pm-11pm: Reading

11pm-11:30pm: Meditate

11:30pm-12am: Downtime

12am: Sleep

Unfortunately, I was unable to follow today’s schedule to a tee. See, I took a sleeping pill last night to help me fall asleep, but I took the pill too late, which caused me to sleep in until 12pm. There goes the first half of my day. I did manage to achieve some goals though: I read a big chunk of the book “Grit”, by Angela Duckworth (highly recommend). I tutored one of my students remotely, which went well. I took a jog on the levee. Studied for the GRE for an hour. After writing this blog, I will work a little bit on my book. Then I’ll try my best to follow the rest of the evening’s schedule.

Thus far, I’ve learned a lot from the book “Grit”, which explores the power of passion and perseverance on the quest to excellence and expertise. In the book, Angela Duckworth, American psychologist, talks about the nature of goal-setting, which exists on three hierarchical levels: high-level goals, medium-level goals, and low-level goals. Your high-level goal is synonymous with a long-term goal. Most people focus on only one or two high-level goals at a time. For many young people like myself, that goal is career-oriented. My present high-level goal is to become a successful sports and performance psychologist. Medium-level goals give you a general breakdown of the steps you need to take to reach your high-level goal. To become a sports psychologist, I need to earn my PhD. To do that, I need to earn my Bachelor’s degree and take the GRE exam. I also need to network with people in the field and engage in extracurricular activities related to sports psychology. After I’ve set these medium-level goals, it’s time to examine my low-level goals. That is, the day-to-day tasks I need to take to accomplish my mid-tier goals, which will ultimately get me to my high-level goal. During undergrad, I worked hard to get good grades by  studying several hours a day, going to office hours, and setting up study sessions with classmates. I am currently studying 3 hours a day for my GRE exam, which I plan on taking in a couple months’ time. I have set up informational interviews with sports psychologists to learn more about the field. I am doing extensive research on PhD programs that suit my interests. These low-level, day-to-day tasks are what will ultimately get me from point A, where I am now, to point B, where I want to be. Without low-level goals, you cannot achieve mid-tier goals, which will obviously preclude you from reaching your long-term goal. Perseverance is necessary. Discipline is a must. Passion, focus, and deliberate practice are key components of the journey. The book “Grit” only corroborates what I already know, from my years as a competitive athlete.

These past seven months of post-grad life have been uninspiring, sluggish, and dull. I battled post-college depression. Identity crisis. Loss of motivation and structure and discipline. Conflict with my parents. Sadness of leaving my life in LA. Only recently have I been able to pick myself up and get the wheels turning again. It took me seven months, but I am happy to say that I’m finally feeling like my old self, again. I wake up each morning, excited to achieve the goals I’ve laid out for myself.

The hierarchy of goals can definitely be applied to the present coronavirus pandemic. Our high-level goal is to rid this world of the virus. Mid-level goal is to limit human-to-human contact and protect the most at-risk populations. Low-level goals include practicing good hygiene, washing your hands for 20 seconds, closing down non-essential businesses, switching schools to online-formatting, implementing lockdowns, preventing gatherings, and self-quarantining at home. We are united in this fight to save humanity. Here’s to a better tomorrow, and a brighter future ahead. And in this dark time in human history, these words never rang truer.

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